During his visit to Vietnam, President Barack Obama indulged in a little beatboxing for Vietnam’s “Queen of Hip-Hop.”
Twenty-six-year-old Hàng Lâm Trang Anh, who goes by the stage name Suboi, told Obama during a town hall meeting in Ho Chi Minh City that she was a rapper. The president asked if she could give a short performance.
“Let’s see what you got,” Obama said. “Do you need a little beat?”
To this, Suboi asked him, “Vietnamese or English?”
Obama in turn replied, “In Vietnamese, of course. But I won’t know what it means.”
The president’s beatbox performance can be viewed in the video above.
Suboi rapped a few lines, which she later explained were about unhappy “rich people in big houses.” She also said that she has been dismissed as a hip-hop artist on a few occasions because she’s a “cute girl.”
“Well, that’s true in the United States too,” Obama said, as reported by Yahoo News. “There’s always been, sort of, sexism and gender stereotypes in the music industry, like every other part of life.”
Hip-hop, a form of art which started as an expression by African-Americans, has now attained a global artistic status, he said.
“Imagine if at the time that rap was starting off that the government had said ‘no’ because some of the things you say are offensive, or some of the lyrics are rude or you’re cursing too much,” he said. “That connection that we’ve seen now in hip-hop culture around the world wouldn’t exist. So, you’ve got to let people express themselves. That’s part of what a modern 21st-century culture is all about.”
Obama also discussed the significance of arts particularly in international politics. “I truly believe if you try to suppress arts, then I think you’re suppressing the deepest dreams and aspirations of a people,” he said, as reported by the Huffington Post.